Fairbanks guests clear the air with old-time smoke stories

FAIRBANKS — Last month at the B&B, the conversation often revolved around the level of smoke that filled the air in Fairbanks from nearby forest fires. The smoke discussions not only ignited conversations about smoke but of smoking. The topic began when a guest expressed her surprise to find a Fairbanks bar where smoking was allowed. She referred to it as a bar with the blue room.

All of the advertising for the inn includes the statement that All Seasons Inn offers its guest a smoke-free environment.

Often this summer when nearby forest fires created eye-burning smoke, I had guests request a room with the smoke-free environment. We gently told them they could have a room with air-conditioning, just open the window. After watching the reactions of those who were not so quick, we had to follow that the rooms were air-conditioned, so just close the window.

Most guests are aware of the no-smoking policy prior to making reservations, but occasionally someone arrives who is a smoker. Such was the case for Kim. Kim was a polite smoker and went outside to smoke no matter the time of day, the weather or the smoke from the fires. One morning after breakfast, Kim scooted out for her after-breakfast smoke. She came back inside with a pack of cigarettes in her hand and rejoined the table group for a second cup of what she referred to as “Mary’s brown water.” Along with her cigarettes, Kim liked the spoon to stand up straight in her coffee.

One of the guests at the breakfast table mentioned to Kim that he was a former smoker.

An employee commented about third-hand smoke, which was a new term to me. She explained that third-hand smoke was under discussion as possibly being hazardous to your health. As a new mom up on such things, she said it was the odor or smoke saturation on clothes, car seats, furniture and carpets.

These simple statements led to other guests joining in with their own smoking tales. As those of us know who grew up during the 1960s and the ’70s, not only did everyone smoke but you could smoke anywhere. Even my high school had a smoking rink for students bold enough to use it. I never know where the table talk will lead, but that particular morning it led to amusement for all.

Richard was a doctor who was not from the ’70s but was in his 70s. He had us all in stitches with his smoking stories.

He did his medical internship in a hospital in California in 1964. He said in those days ashtrays were generously provided and patients and hospital workers could smoke in the waiting room, in patient cubicles, in the labs and X-ray room, but not the in operating room.

If a doctor needed a smoke during an operation, they could take a smoke break in the scrub room. The only problem with using the scrub room was that you had to scrub up again before returning to the operating room, which was annoying because it left the patient on the table for a few extra minutes. The other exception was that if you smoked marijuana in the hospital you could only smoke it in designated chairs at the end of the hallway.

Part of Richard’s training was with a doctor in the emergency room who was a chain smoker. This fellow had a standing order for the staff that when a patient was put on a gurney there should be an ashtray placed between the patient’s legs so he would always have one nearby.

He said the emergency room was well stocked with old beanbag-style ashtrays that would not tip over. Seems the only thing he ever got into trouble for during his ER rotation was removing an ashtray.

A lady said that when she was in college during the same era she and her friends sat in a circle in the dorm floor to learn how to smoke. They practiced the art of gracefully inhaling and exhaling, how to hold cigarettes in the most ladylike manner and how to stomp out the butts delicately. Once the task was mastered, they bought lovely cigarette cases with matching lighters.

I, too, was a smoker from the same period until I meet Viva Becker who was a volunteer with the Fairbanks Chapter of the American Cancer Society. She asked me to join Fairbanks’ first Great American Smokeout. From that day, I have been smoke-free. I think the year was 1979. Thank you, Viva.

To counter all the bad stories about smoke, here is a good smoke recipe from my late Aunt Mary Ann Schikora. She and Viva were great friends. Aunt Mary loved to cook and to eat and as a result was always fighting her weight. Someone once asked her why she didn’t take up smoking. She said all that would do for her was to make her a fat lady with bad breath. Enjoy the salmon, but try not to inhale it by eating slowly.

Smoked Salmon

Party Roll

• 1 8-oz. can smoked salmon, drained

• 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons grated onion

• 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Garnish

• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

• 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Flake smoked salmon and mix thoroughly with other ingredients. Roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. To garnish, mix nuts and parsley and roll log in mixture. Chill well and serve with crackers.

source: www.newsminer.com

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